Tagged: Suicide Squad

Faith Based Economics, by John Ostrander

Faith Based Economics, by John Ostrander

I don’t know much about economics. It’s all voodoo to me. Unfortunately, the same appears to be true of the corporate bosses of Bear Stearns, the “hallowed” investment bank that was sold over the weekend for pennies on the dollar to JPMorgan Chase. That was made possible by a thirty billion (“B” billion, not “M” million) dollar hand-out from the United States Federal Reserve Bank to cover Bear Stearns assets that would be “difficult” to sell off, meaning the U.S taxpayer will be stuck holding that bag.

“How could this happen?!” Actually, how could it not? Bear Stearns, along with a lot of other investment banks, were using “mortgage based securities.” Essentially, as I understand it, they lent the money to the guys lending the money to the people who were buying homes. Mortgages. They issued and traded bonds that used these mortgages to secure the money for the people who bought the securities. So long as those mortgages were prudent, it was not necessarily a bad idea.

However, the guys making the mortgages invented a new category – sub-prime mortgages. Many of those mortgages were given to people who didn’t have the funds really to make the payments and weren’t going to have them. That’s okay. Just re-finance! And the “worth” of the houses being bought kept going up and up. Anyone with half a brain knew that the housing market was WAAAAAY over-priced. It was crazy.

The reason the houses and land were worth that much was because everyone agreed they were. They believed it as deeply as any Born Again Christian grabs hold of the Bible. The loaves and the fishes with which Jesus fed the multitude didn’t multiply as much or as fast as some of the housing prices. It had to be true. Shout down the un-believers and naysayers. Except, of course, it all wasn’t true.

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A Few of My Favorite Things, by Elayne Riggs

A Few of My Favorite Things, by Elayne Riggs

Back in the days of Usenet, I used to hear a lot of variations of “Why are there so many negative reviews and so few positive ones?” As one of those reviewers who not only discussed the art half of comic books but who also wrote a lot of positive reviews in my 4½ years of doing Pen-Elayne For Your Thoughts, I would see this manifest more as “Why are the threads responding to the few negative reviews so long, as opposed to those on the far more numerous positive reviews?”

The answer was pretty self-evident to most of us reviewers. In general it’s much easier for people to perpetuate clever putdowns, or to pile on a negative thread, than it is to engage in the vocabulary of positive discussion. One of the things we would identify as a next-to-useless post would be someone merely typing “Me too” or “Ditto.” It added nothing of substance to the online dialogue, it just took up bandwidth. But it had the opposite effect of the real-life etiquette advice that “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It became “If you can’t add something of substance to a discussion rather than just agreeing with the original poster, you’re better off not contributing at all.” I suspect that what some of them actually meant was “Bored now. You’re being too nice; throw us some raw meat.

And of course, that was a shame. I’ve never found it that hard to say good things about comic books. I love comic books. I buy and read quite a wide variety of graphic literature, and as I’m generally not in the assumed demographic for much of it I’ve learned to adjust my tastes accordingly — that is to say, there’s still some subject matter that doesn’t appeal to me, but I’ll generally try to give most of my chosen reading a fair chance, and I think I tend to be easily pleased. Nitpicking details, while worth noting in a review, has never weighed as important to me as how the work made me feel, whether it held together as a whole and moved me during the time it took me to read it.

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ANDREW’S LINKS: I Can Haz Sekrets

ANDREW’S LINKS: I Can Haz Sekrets

What do you get when LOLcats meets PostSecret? Lolsecretz! [via John Scalzi]

Comics Links

Camden New Journal reports on a “market trader” (is that like a day trader, or does it mean a professional?) whose graphic novel Brodie’s Law has been bought by Hollywood for the proverbial pile of money.

Comic Book Resources talks to Daniel Way about the Origins of Wolverine…well, this year’s version, anyway.

A high school teacher in Connecticut has been forced to resign after giving a female first-year student a copy of Eightball #22, which her parents found inappropriate (to put it mildly).

Comics Reporter lists all of the recent firings at Wizard, among other comings and goings at various comics-publishing outfits.

Some guy at Comics2Film is very, very opinionated about what is and isn’t manga.

Comics Should Be Good, anticipating next year’s April Fool’s Day, reports that all indy publishers are now “selling out.”

Comics Reviews

Forbidden Planet International reviews the first collection of The Boys.

Comics Reporter reviews John Callahan’s 1991 cartoon collection Digesting the Child Within.

Newsarama reviews Gods of Asgard by Erik Evensen.

Chris’s Invincible Super-Blog takes on the Haney-riffic “Saga of the Super-Sons” from the early ‘70s.

Brad Curran of Comics Should Be Good reviews the first issue of Umbrella Academy.

Occasional Superheroine is impressed by the high level of emo in Penance: Relentless.

Occasional Superheroine also reviews Booster Gold #2 and Suicide Squad #1.

From The Savage Critics:

And YesButNoButYes also reviews this week’s comics, starting with Jungle Girl #1.

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ANDREW’S LINKS: Pipsqueak Wolverine

ANDREW’S LINKS: Pipsqueak Wolverine

Comics Links

Marvel Comics is having a costume contest on their website, to be judged by fans. The winner (who gets a Handbook-style page in some random comic) will be announced, appropriately, on Halloween. And the guy to beat this year is…pipsqueak Wolverine!

Scripps News talked to Mike Carey about his “real” novels, like The Devil You Know, and his graphic novels, like Re-Gifters.

Comic Book Resources interviews Amy Kim Ganter, who creates American Manga.

ICv2 interviews Marvel publisher Dan Buckley.

The Daily Cross Hatch interviews Paul Karasik, who edited the Fletcher Hanks collection I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets, among other things.

Comicon interviews Alex Robinson.

Comics Reviews

Bookgasm reviews the collection of the Alan Moore-plotted, old-British-character-filled Albion miniseries.

Augie De Bliecks, Jr.’s Pipeline column at Comic Book Resources looks at the new Marvel Comics Presents #1, the JLA Wedding Special, and other things.

Comics Reporter digs up Lynn Johnston’s 1992 “For Better or For Worse” collection Things Are Looking Up…

Brad Curran of Comics Should Be Good adores Scott Pilgrim.

From The Savage Critics:

Graeme McMillan cocks a snoot at Booster Gold #2 and other fine comics

and also looks at the first issue of the new Suicide Squad series.

Newsarama presents the usual picks of the week.

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MIKE GOLD: Look Who’s Writing Comics Now!

MIKE GOLD: Look Who’s Writing Comics Now!

There’s an exciting new trend in comics these days. Comic book writers are actually being hired to write comic books.

Recently, we’ve seen guys like Jim Shooter taking on The Legion of Super-Heroes, Marv Wolfman on sundry Teen Titans and the newer-still Vigilante, Tony Isabella told me he’s got a full schedule of assignments and our own John Ostrander is writing the new Suicide Squad mini-series. Go figure.

We’ve gone through a fad of hiring novelists and movie writers and directors. Some of these folks have turned in some great stuff. Others, not so great. Most, not so on-time. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, back in 1981 I brought on a playwright named John Ostrander under the belief that his training and background would inure to the benefit of the medium. In all modesty, that was one of my better decisions, I think.

Since then, John’s gone on to become one of the top writers in the medium. I know this because he’s writing three or four major projects for ComicMix while juggling his Star Wars and DC commitments. That’s because John devoted his full resources to the craft of writing comic books. It shows.

Comic book writing is not a part-time job. It requires discipline, experience and skill. In order to make a career out of it and remain fresh and innovative, comic book writing requires thought and enormous effort. Novelists and movie folks do not have the time to prioritize this medium. Movie folks in particular have to turn down stupid money to write for this medium which, by the way, pays pretty well if you’re fully employed.

Stan Lee, bless him, made it sound so easy. Back in the day, he frequently said anybody could write comics. That’s true… if you happen to be Stan Lee. A great many writers of the 1950s went the other way, from comics to “Hollywood” (movies and teevee), seeking what was then greater stability, better compensation, and a stronger sense of legitimacy during a time when society put comics creators on par with child pornographers. By and large, most found their storytelling skills inhibited by the commercial demands of these media, and they returned to the comics world.

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BIG BROADCAST Showcases The Devil’s Panties!

BIG BROADCAST Showcases The Devil’s Panties!

Take a girl who has had her share of wacky jobs, including one behind the counter in a comic store. Then give her pen and paper and a twisted sense of humor. Now you’re got the basis for The Devil’s Panties as The Big ComicMix Broadcast introduces you to the lady who started it all – and you’ll find out why she is chasing men with a leaf blower!

Meanwhile, DC has ravaged their Showcase line-up (by, by Suicide Squad!) and we give you the good and bad on that – and we’ll tell you how Saturday morning cartoons still exist, at least on one channel.

Don’t bend over when you PRESS THE BUTTON – there’s a girl with a leaf blower behind you!

JOHN OSTRANDER: My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

JOHN OSTRANDER: My Karma Ran Over My Dogma

In my 25 odd (sometimes very odd) years in comics, I’ve had a chance to be associated with certain books/characters/concepts and produced work of which I’m very proud such as GrimJack, Suicide Squad, The Kents, Wasteland, and others. With some – such as GrimJack and Suicide Squad – I’ve had a chance to go back again recently and re-explore them which offers different challenges, new perspectives, but also familiar pleasures.

One series that I’m not certain I could revisit is The Spectre. At the time, the book was an examination of theological issues, questions of redemption and of punishment, and the concept of God. All along with some truly exemplary and horrific art courtesy of Tom Mandrake. It had a great run and is one of the highest points of my career, in my own opinion, but at the time I wrote it I was still something of a believer. I was a lapsed Catholic (for me, RC meant Recovering Catholic). I didn’t hold with the hierarchy or the theology of the Church but I guess I believed in the general outline – Jesus the Son of God, died for our sins, came back from the dead, and so on. Certainly I believed that sin existed and that redemption was something that was possible. It was from all this that my questioning in Spectre emerged.

These days – well, I’m more of an agnostic. I got my doubts. It began when I asked myself a basic writer’s question – who were the gospels and epistles written for at the time they were written? Who was the anticipated audience? Not us – they were very much written for their age. The Second Coming was expected within the audience’s lifetime.

From there I learned to see the texts in the social and political contexts of their time; these helped shape the writings as much or more than theology. Finally, I came to see that we project on God and or the Devil many of the things that are within us. Above all, I came to understand that the things in which I thought I believed were things that I inherited or that had been drummed into me (sometimes literally) when I was a boy.

Even in grade school, there were some questions. Sister Mary Tabernacle Door Half Open taught us that the Holy Trinity consisted of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – a bird. A dove, to be exact. As an image that made no sense to me. Shouldn’t it be Father, Son – and Mother? Didn’t that make more sense? S’ter (all the nuns had their names shortened down to an abbreviation of their rank – S’ter) was not amused and informed me that if I kept up that kind of thinking I was bound for Hell. Worse, I’d get sent home with a note to my mother which was a far more immediate peril and one that I understood on a deeper, primal level. Hell was a concept; my Mother was real. I stifled my heretical ways for a long time.

As a result, I’ve come to be very leery these days of dogma – stated beliefs of an organization or individual, religious or not, that are uttered with an authority that does not invite question or contradiction. It’s where thought processes stop. It is where truth is assumed to be obvious or ordained. I’m right because I say I am. I have either God or logic or something to back it up but there it is. These days, I’m seeing dogma all over the place including some I didn’t expect.

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JOHN OSTRANDER: Backing Into The Future

The new Suicide Squad miniseries got announced this last weekend and noted by many, including here on ComicMix. The series was always a cross between Mission: Impossible and The Dirty Dozen and will be again. I’ve always tried to give it a “real world” feel, even going back to its origin. And sometimes the “real world” pulls a fast one.

When I proposed the Squad, there was some concern that the premise – that the U.S. government would hire bad guys to undertake missions considered to be “in the national interest” but needed deniability – seemed a little “out there.” In between the time that the proposal was accepted and we got our first issue out, Irangate broke – where the government was using bad guys etc etc – and made us look like pikers. It looked like we were cashing in on the story rather than inventing an edgy and daring scenario.

That continued through the Squad’s run. I would read the papers and try to extrapolate events from them, concoct possible and likely scenarios and try to fit the Squad around them, and the real world would get there around the same time the issue came out. I was successful enough at one point that a friend contacted me one January wanting to know where I was setting the Squad that summer. She was preparing her summer vacation plans and wherever I was sending the Squad she wanted to avoid.

In truth, I’m not much of a seer. I simply apply what I know from writing plots – formulating a sequence of events that would lead to a given event/moment and then extrapolating the most feasible series of events that might follow from said event. I apply this method to what I see in the world. Very useful in plotting or dealing with characters; a little scarier when dealing with real-life situations.

For example, a couple of weeks ago I did it in a column concerning the sudden death of bees. Others, such as Al Gore, are doing an admirably scary job looking at climate change (a.k.a. global warming). I remember once when I was teaching a writing class at the Joe Kubert School – yes, I was teaching writing to artists – I gave an assignment on scanning the future. We started from a given factoid: oil is not a renewable resource. At some point we will cross the line where we will have taken more oil out of the ground than there is left in it. Some speculate we either already have or will within the next ten years. At that point, oil has to start becoming a scarcer commodity. Given our current rate of consumption, there are some who think the oil will give out around 2030.

We started to explore what that would mean. Not just higher costs for driving your car or heating your home but what the impact would be in other areas. For example, as the cost of transporting goods goes up so does the cost of bringing in food outside the local area. Everything then costs more from the clothes you wear to the food you eat.

Plastics are made from petroleum and as petroleum becomes scarcer, the cost of plastics goes up. Think of everything – EVERYTHING – you use that depends on plastic use – on CHEAP plastic use. The cost, of course, gets passed on to the consumer. That’s a given.

With all this, I asked them to contemplate what happens geopolitically. As oil becomes scarcer and control of it literally dictates what happens to a country’s economy, who will do what in order to control access to the oil? I don’t mean just this country; there are up and coming players as well. Hungry players.

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Ostrander scores with Suicide

Ostrander scores with Suicide

Our old pal John Ostrander, along with our old pals Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel, are getting DC’s phonebook treatment as Showcase Presents The Suicide Squad is about to pop up on their schedule – just in time for John’s brand-new Suicide Squad mini-series.

If this event looks to you like a ComicMix staff meeting, you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Suicide Squad was written by our columnist/contributor Mr. Ostrander and it was edited by our columnist/contributor Mr. Greenberger. And the series was a spin-off from the classic Legends mini-series edited by columnist/EIC Mr. Yours Truly.

Pretty cool, John. It’s rather rare for DC to run material from the past 20 years in their Showcase Presents series!

The helfy tome will be out the first week in November.

Artwork copyright DC Comics. All Rights Reserved. Artwork by Howard Chaykin. John Ostrander did not contribute to this item, and no animals were harmed in its production, although one committed– aw, you guessed.

ComicMix Podcast #7 arrives!

ComicMix Podcast #7 arrives!

Neal Adams tells Mike Raub about teaming up with Frank Miller on a Batman mini-series, we uncover the roots of the Suicide Squad, our Timeline stops on 1968, Walter Cronkite talks parallel history, and new releases are exposed!

You can here all the thrills by pressing the play button, right here:

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